Thursday, 5 April 2012

The science of client approval

My friends, many of you work on the creative side of the business. ('Scribblers', I call you! You're so cute and silly, playing with your pens and pencils and little computers, all tucked away at the back of the agency in what I call, 'the playground'.)

Anyway, I love you all because I'm obviously a kindred creative spirit. But as I have experience of being a total fucking genius across all areas of this business, I thought I might try to help my creative brethren understand the often rigourous thinking that goes into a client's approval process.

Let me assure you, my talented creative cousins, that we do not judge your work with anything but the utmost respect, care, thought, patience and consideration.

For example, here's the tried-and-tested DK Route To Approval.

Step 1. Look at the work.
This is so fucking important. I really can't stress this enough. You just can't assess creative work without looking at it. It took me a good six or seven years to establish this fact, and I offer it to you, my fellow marketing professionals, free of charge and with good grace. I know it will help you.

Step 2. Consult the target audience.
Crucial, this. Vital. And for me, being in consumer durables relating to, or directly involving, cleaning clothes and or soft furnishings and or other fabrics, with a commitment to excellence, quality and placing superior cleaning at the core of our customers' product experience, that means consulting my mother.

She's absolutely smack in the middle of the target audience that's just outside my actual target audience, so she's perfect. I let the old girl see everything.

Step 3. Relay target audience feedback to the agency.
I regard my agency as my partner. Well, my partner who has to do what I say. But a partner nonetheless. And I communicate openly with them - which means relaying my mother's feedback on all their ads.

Sometimes, this is minimal. She'll just say, 'The colour is all wrong - it's just like the lipstick that witch who stole your father from us used to wear.' So, like, simple - just change the colour. (And give the agency a fucking good bollockising for not doing in the first place.)

Other times, her feedback will be more...comprehensive. For example: 'This is disgusting and hateful and an insult to God who, let me tell you, David, is watching every little move you make. And the colour is all wrong - it's just like the lipstick that witch who stole your father from us used to wear.'

Not easy for the agency to interpret that. But that's why I pay them them the medium bucks!

Step 4. Amendments.
After a good think about things (I usually allow the duration of one particularly exhaustive and wide-ranging dump), I like to fire a list of amendments over to the agency. Now, it's important to give them a reasonable timsescale. 'First thing tomorrow' seems reasonable to me.

Agencies are often touchy about amendments. Especially when, like mine, they infinitely improve the work and make it clear I could have done it myself. So be sensitive about it. I try to add a compliment to every amend. 

For example: "I really like the way you've used the English language in the headline (see - a compliment) but it's absolute fucking jizzmud and if you don't change it I'm going to cunt you to death.'

Or: 'I like the way you always have a tidy desk (a compliment) but this ad looks like you literally shat it onto the page after a night of consuming spunk jelly, dog bile and unfiltered self-loathing. Change it or die, you squirt of backflow.'

It's just my style. It happens to work.

Step 5. 'Oh shit!' amendments.
Once all the amendments have been made, it's time for all the amendments you forgot to ask for first time around. It's fine. Just call the agency and say 'Oh, shit! I completely forgot to mention that we can't use that picture, or that headline, and it's a different product, and it's not a DPS ad in The Telegraph, it's an A6 flyer. By tomorrow morning, please. Bye!'

They don't mind. They're used to it. And if they're not, just say the words 'agency review' and things will move pretty quickly.

Step 6. Rebrief.
Let's face it, nothing good gets done first time round. So I like to completely move the goal posts once the first brief has been answered, amended, re-amended and finished to print-ready standards. It keeps the agency on its toes. And whenever I call them and say, 'I think I've come up with a brilliant opportunity for you to improve on the ad you've just finished' there's a faintly haunting silence and a little sob, which proves it: they're breathless with excitement and welling up with gratitude.

Step 7. Go back to step 1.

Once you've got something you're finally happy with, you just need to:

Step 8. Present to the team and return with amends.

Step 9. Present to the board and return with amends.

Step 10. Present to the focus group and return with amends.

Step 11. Present to the board again and return with amends.

Believe it or not, that's it. See? Advertising is a piece of piss. 

Anyway, that's the DK Route To Approval, and it's how I roll.

Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!

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